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We had a terrific all-singing, all-dancing game of Avalon this week. 10-players, everyone had a special character, and we used plot cards, too! It went like this.
Good Guys: Merlin, Percival, Guinevere, the Lovers, Good Lancelot.
Note 1: we use the helmeted male and female Loyal Servant cards for the Lovers. They see each other, but no-one else. Sometimes they may act like a Merlin and Percival team, and be a lure for the Spies to assassinate.
Note 2: the Lancelotsare an official Avalon expansion, but we always play them with Guinevere (the blonde lady Loyal Servant). She sees both Lancelots, but they do not see her or each other. She can be assassinated at the end of the game instead of Merlin, if the Spies prefer. We also play that whichever Lancelot is bad at the time must always play fail, if on missions, and the good one (like all Blue team players) must play success.
Spies: Mordred, Morgana, Bad Lancelot.
Note 3: we use the Oberon card for Puck, who can play success or fail. To win the game (in tandem with either the Good Guys or the Spies) he must ensure that the game reaches m5 and that m5 succeeds (he does not need actually to be on m5 himself). He does not care whether the assassination succeeds or fails. He must not reveal his identity during the assassination phase (although he may well have already done so earlier in the game). .https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1080710/new-character-idea-...
Players - all 10 were experienced, though some had not played with Puck/the Lovers before: Pluto, Lisa, Tony, Rob (me), Paul, Marianna, Roger, Raf, Nic, Alex.
See the game from my viewpoint: I was Good Lancelot (so I had no information) and fourth player.
We turned the first plot card, which said “Leader may propose any mission out of the normal order.”
Loads of discussion ensued, with most people saying that a good guy would not choose to run, say, m4 or m5, as it would make the game so hard for the good guys.
Pluto, Lisa, Tony and I all opted for m1 but our proposed teams were rejected, then fifth player Paul threw the cat among the pigeons by electing to send m3 (requiring 4 players)! He was 5th pick, and we always play that the fifth picker’s mission goes automatically, as we consider the vote that-must-be-voted-up to be quite pointless (ironically in view of what happened later in this game).
Paul picked himself, Pluto, Lisa and Tony. I shuffled and laid out the cards to reveal two successes and two fails! Loud gasps all round – some of which had an element of delight, as a double-fail can be very revealing. Much discussion ensued. General view was that Bad Lancelot and Puck had failed this, but other possibilities are were floated, and several of us were by no means convinced. I was particularly impressed by some of the points made by Nic, and decided she was probably good.
Because it was m3, we now turned a Lancelot card - but there was no flip, so I was still good.
Spies 1 – Good Guys 0
We now had to play m1 (3 players) as we had missed it out. We turned a plot card, it said: “If the next two mission proposals are rejected, the mission fails immediately.”
The next two players were Marianna and Roger, a recently married couple. Everyone understood that we must upvote one of their choices or go down 2-0 to the bad guys.
Marianna spent a lot of time trying to pick a good team. Again Nic made good, helpful points – might she be Percival? I suggested to Marianna that she should choose myself and Nic. Marianna did pick Nic, but also said that she thought Roger was good and picked him! Not only that, she said she thought he might pick a better team! Having played with them both a lot, this surprised me a great deal – not their usual style. So Marianna – a very clever player – is up to something.
I ran through the possibilities in my mind: (1) Both of them were spies. (2) They were the Lovers. (3) Marianna was Percival and Roger was Merlin or vice versa. (Another possibility, that Marianna was Guinevere and had identified Roger as Good Lancelot, could not be correct because I was Good Lancelot). I decided on balance that they were probably the Lovers and Marianna was setting Roger up to be assassinated as Merlin. But I didn’t totally discount the possibility of her being Merlin setting up Percival (for this to work, he would have to have ID’d her as Merlin and, somehow or other, alerted her to his identity as Percival).
Marianna’s choice was voted down, although I upvoted it.
Roger selected the same team. All 10 players upvoted it. Three success cards were revealed.
There was no turn of a Lancelot card, as this was m1.
Spies 1 - Good Guys 1
The new plot card said: “The Leader chooses a member of this mission and that person must publicly show their mission success or fail card.”
Raf was next to propose a team. He picked all three members of the successful previous mission, plus himself – which was four people seated in a row. This was voted down – I have an instinctive distrust of missions consisting entirely of people sitting next to one another, for no logical reason.
Nic was next to choose. I said we should urgently consider voting for Nic’s mission. Not only because she was on the successful mission, but the next four players consisted of one person we knew nothing about (Alex) and three people who were on the double-failed m3 (that we played first). I did not think we should allow the choice of mission team to reach them. Others concurred.
There was a fair amount of discussion of how to get Nic’s proposal upvoted. She hovered between choosing me or Raf on top of the members of the previous mission. Alex said he would upvote if Raf was chosen, but I was not keen. Then Raf chimed in and said he was ok if I was on the mission instead of him. Still, Alex was satisfied by this, and so the final proposal was Nic, Me, Marianna and Roger. It got six upvotes.
I was surprised that Raf trusted me. Why? Was he a spy doing something sneaky? Ding! Got it. Raf had to be Guinevere. He would have known that I was one of the Lancelots and, if the other Lancelot was Paul, then he now knew I was good. Mentally I grinned to myself: if I ultimately turned bad after a flip, then I now had Guinevere in my sights for assassination.
In accordance with the plot card, each of us played our chosen mission card face down in front of us. Nic, as mission Leader, now had to choose one of us to show his/her card publicly. Roger and Marianna urged her to choose me, and she did. I flipped my card – success of course (I am good, so had to play success). My card was then gathered with the other three cards and shuffled. They were then flipped to reveal four success cards.
But there had to be a Lancelot card turned – the game was heading for a good guys win and I wanted to be on the good team. Whew! My wish was granted and there was no flip.
Spies 1 - Good Guys 2
The good guys were now in a very strong position. The four people on the previous mission were almost 100% certain to be good. What’s more, I was fifth pick for selecting m4 – which would succeed unless there were two fails, so we could simply reject the first four proposals and I could pick the four known good guys and any other person – which, as a couple of people commented, would be Raf.
The plot card turned said: “During the selection and voting for this mission, no-one except the Leader may speak.”
With our noisy, talkative crowd, this made for a nice change. It also prevented any last-ditch attempts by Mordred, Morgana etc to persuade us of some unlikely possibility that accounted for the play so far, but was a complete spoof. As we went round the table, the leaders explained their choices, and then we voted.
Alex picked the four known good guys and Raf, not himself. This impressed everyone but we still didn’t upvote it. But we did think that might mean he was good.
The next three players, Pluto, Lisa and Tony, had all been on the double-failed m3 (that we played first) so their proposals got thumbs down all round.
I was fifth pick and – as promised, for what looked like a certain win – I chose myself, Nic, Roger, Marianna and Raf. We put in our cards.
The cards were shuffled and turned to reveal four successes – and a fail! Really? OK, it’s good enough for the win, but … what happened?
Spies 1 - Good Guys 3
Now came the Spies’ revelation and the assassination. Good guys and Puck (who had lost the game, because it didn’t reach m5 and succeed) all fell quiet to listen and wait to see if the Spies could find Merlin or Guinevere.
As most people had thought, Paul was Bad Lancelot. But it turned out he unknowingly picked both Mordred (Tony) and Morgana (Lisa) on his mission!
With three spies on the first mission (m3), they all assumed that Pluto, the fourth person on the mission, had to be Puck, when it double-failed.
Disappointingly, and slightly to my surprise, the Spies didn’t fall for Marianna’s clever ploy of setting up Roger, and – although they didn’t say so – presumably decided that she and Roger were indeed the Lovers, not Percival and Merlin.
So they eventually came down to a choice between me and Nic. I hoped they would choose me – there is something utterly delightful about being assassinated as Merlin when you are Good Lancelot! But no, they finally chose to assassinate Nic. Thank heavens they didn’t know I was Good Lancelot, or Raf (Guinevere) would have been dead in a second. But was Nic Merlin? I didn’t think so – I thought she was Percival.
No, Nic is … Puck!!!!
Laughter and chaos break out! What happened in the first round (m3) to get two fails? Spies knew that was Paul was Bad Lance and had to play a fail so there was no need for them to do so, but Pluto was Percival and¬ he definitely didn’t play one. It seemed that Mordred must have accidentally played a fail! Oops!
Raf and Roger jumped in and pointed out that the spies should have done better. There was a fail on the last mission that could only have been Puck as none of the spies were on it.
Game is over and Good Guys have won but several people turned to me asking if I was Merlin. Nope, Alex was Merlin, and yes, Raf was Guinevere and Marianna and Roger were the Lovers.
Analysis shows several lessons from this game, one of which is that good, experienced players screw up sometimes! Here, Mordred played a fail when he shouldn’t have. Puck succeeded m2 (in Round 3) which is very risky - she should probably have failed it to give herself a chance to get the game to m5. Guinevere outed himself to Good Lancelot, which could have been disastrous if I'd turned bad, and lastly the Spies didn’t take a key fact into consideration when choosing who to assassinate (though I doubt they’d have picked Alex anyway as he really never had to do anything Merlin-like).
We’ve been playing this mix of characters in our 10-player games for a while now: it means everyone gets a character, which is interesting for us all, and – even though one might think that having only three Spies makes it tough for them, this is balanced out by the inclusion of Puck (who acts like a spy some of the time) and the Lovers who ¬(if they are identified) reduce the pool of candidates for assassination by two, giving the Spies a boost at the end of the game.
Although it was I who first brought the use of plot cards into our group, I’d initially been reluctant to use them in tandem with the 10-player all-character game. No longer. This was huge fun and I shall push to use them again regularly.